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Your Business

News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States.

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Roberta 5, Gerald 3, Us 3, Cleveland 2, America 2, U.s. 2, Superstorm Sandy 2, Annette 2, Tennessee 1, Memphis 1, New York City 1, Msnbc 1, Multimedia 1, United States 1, Commerce 1, The Manhattan 1, Sba 1, Ohio 1, J.j. Ramberg 1, Agnew 1,
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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues  
   facing small business in the United States.  

    November 11, 2012
    4:30 - 5:00am PST  

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>> how can small businesses decy meated by superstorm sandy bounce back? one company that discovered customer involvement with their product helped make their operation more efficient. also cash moms. in the forefront of the shop small movement. that's all coming up next on "your business." small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express open is here to help. that's why we're proud to present "your business" on msnbc.
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hi there everyone. welcome to "your business" the show dedie indicated to giving you tips and advice to help your business grow. many east coast small businesses are still reeling from devastating effects of superstorm sandy. the storm followed up by a powerful nor'easter caused billions of daniels to homes and devastated commercial districts. thousands of small businesses are trying to rebuild. insurance won't cover a lot of that damage and so owners are desperately seeking financing to restore their companies. the federal government and the small business administration are reaching out to small business owners in need. >> if you've had damage we can help with recovery loans, and even if you haven't had physical
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damage, but you've lost cash flow because the area has been shut down, we have an economic injury loan for you. so if you go sba.gov we have a sandy page and that will help lead you through all of the recovery steps. we have a customer service number and i want to just make sure people know they can call our call center at 1-800-659-2955. 1-800-659-2955 and we can walk you step by step through the applications. >> gerald is the senior manager of disaster assistance for the u.s. chamber of commerce whose local branches whose community effort. and robert is here as well. great to see you both. a very trying time for so many people. robert we were just talking. you took a tour of red hook an area here in new york city that was devastated.
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>> the sad thing is red hook has come such a long way. many entrepreneurs set up shop there. i visited a winery, wonderful man who makes key lime pies, a glass cutter, designers, just completely wiped out. 300 jobs at fairway, big supermarket there wiped out. and many of them are fighting back and, you know, looking to get back on their feet. >> i want to take this topic in two parts. first what can you do if you were hit by disaster the other one is what can you do prepare for had ina lot of our viewers aren't in this area. gerald talk to me very quickly if you're a small business own that was affected by this where can you go? >> well the first thing i would say is to call our help desk. the u.s. chamber of commerce has set up a national disaster help desk for business for small businesses to call if they don't know where to turn and that number is 1-88-my-biz-help which
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is 888-692-4943. so we're asking small businesses to call our help desk, we have experienced counselors that are standing by to help businesses figure out the best way to recover. >> what do people need most? is it money? is it relocation? is it help cleaning up? what are people asking for? >> capital is a major thing that's needed right now for small businesses. the small business administration is giving loans. very low interest loans over 30 years and that's is going to happy lot of small businesses. another unique thing, the local chambers of commerce are doing, for example, the manhattan chamber of commerce has set up a fund for small businesses. and individuals can donate to this fund through 501(c)3 and this will give gants to small businesses in the area to help
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recover. >> one. petr peri >> one of the petrifying things is you're starting all over again. >> we set up a zero interest loan for the first six months, 1% after that. we teamed up with goldman sachs and new york city development corporation to get that out. the good news is that many over 1,000 inquiries already and dozens of companies are already in the pipeline for those loans. to get that 10, 15, 20, 25,000 dollars out so people can pay their workers and do the necessary repairs. >> let's talk about going forward. it's awful. if you're a small business watching this what can you do to prepare for a disaster that might hit you whether it is a tornado or an earthquake or another hurricane? >> make sure you have the right insurance.
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make sure you have flood insurance. many people don't understand that flood insurance is separate from their typical insurance, it's run by the federal government. so, you know, making sure you have those things. if you have inventory that's going to spoil, make being sure you have a generator in case you lose power. making sure your employees are prepared, your suppliers are prepared. >> couldn't emphasize enough. what gerald also said is insurance. sadly we run into so many companies that did not have their paper work in order. and don't have flood insurance. and it's a long road for them. >> it's devastating. >> thank you both so much for everything you're doing help rebuild these businesses. you guys have a long road ahead of you and a lot of work. thank you for taking the time to talk to us here. >> thank you. for so many business owners doing what's best for the bottom line means ways to stream line their operations.
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that may mean buying a new piece of equipment to make production go faster it's not always the case. one tennessee company is actually turning to its customers to make their processes more efficient. >> they were there from the beginning. >> it was a fabulous experience. >> they said to me we can create something beautiful. >> they are the definition of satisfied customers. >> i had confidence that they knew exactly what to do. >> they each turned to memphis, tennessee mid-south metal fabricators for work at their homes. >> they built a covering for our porch. >> they did the front gates. they did on both balconies front and rear and my favorite the iron gates in the wine cellar.
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>> annette is build agnew house and wanted an original railing for a staircase. >> i came hire because i wanted options. >> while their needs were different the customer experience they got was the exact same. >> they wanted input from us of course and welcoming of it. >> roberta and the owners for over two decades pride themselves of making their business more personal. >> it's something we've always offered to people. you have customers that want to take a very active part. you want them to be involved and happy in the designates they are making. >> it goes beyond just answering phone calls or suggesting designs for residential and commercial clients. >> i've had customers that sat down and they actually go with me through the building process. and it gives them a sense of ownership. they own that design. >> the hope is to give clients as many opportunities as possible to provide feedback
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because it's good for business. >> i think it's very important to listen and be in tune with your customer. >> the involvement of msw's customers is key to its cash flow. i want reduces the chances of making a product that a customer doesn't want. >> you will have the person come in and it will be hours and then they will decide on something, and they come back and they say you know, i changed my mind. we're back to square one. we'll do it all over again. but it's fun. >> and that resulted in the company's overall efficiency. >> as i tell my customers there's no money in not what you want. let's do it right the first time. >> once something like a cut is made there's no cost effective way to undo what's been done. >> you look in some cases half the labor cost that you have to put back into the project that's
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just not there in this day and time because everything is priced very tight. sometimes it's more economical just to start from scratch and rebuild it. >> that's why roberta and mark make every effort to maximize production. during the design phase multiple sketches of one project is the norm. >> we had people sit down at the table three or four hours, pulling things, looking at things, sketching things. that can be one meeting, that can be three or four meetings. that can entail design drawings. that can entail building a mock up sample. >> roberta and mark have no problem spending hours or days getting those designs right because it helps manage work later. >> much easier to erase on a piece of paper. >> i want includes customer oversight. >> if it's something we're afraid they may not be 100% sure
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of we definitely invite them to come and look at it and see the progress that we're making as it goes along. >> people like annette can give a thumbs up or thumbs down before work continues. >> much easier for them to change something on their table out there to cut something out, to reweld something. much easier to change it at that point. >> so why go to all this trouble? the truth is that having customers input every step of the way saves msw money. >> if i was putting a monetary number on it, it might save anywhere from 10 to 30%. >> while the figures vary the difference is significant enough that roberta and mark would like more clients to follow suit. >> it's definitely something i encourage we do. we get pretty involved. i usually have their cell number in my cell phone where i can pick up the phone and call them if i think of something and they do the same with me. >> the customer involvement
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model has not only made the business more efficient but helped msw get more business through referrals. >> so much to be said for customers being involved with you that you build trust and that they love the product. >> and that's why mark and roberta say other small business owners should do the same because customer involvement can have such a positive impact on your bottom line. >> i truly believe that it is the reason that we're still in business. >> the pledges found out firsthand customer involvement though it can take a lot of time cab real advantage to your small business. can it work for your company? let's turn to this week's board of directors. alfred is the senior vice president multimedia at black enterprise.com and angela is the co-founder of savor this success. and also an entrepreneur
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yourself. before we start mentioning your tie, this is a new tie coming out. >> i'm happy. you guys know me for wearing bow ties. but the signature bow ties is available this weekend at windsor.com. >> okay. customer involvement. it makes so much sense. what i loved is when he said there's no money in rework. >> i think that first of all all the rage right now is spoke. let the customer be involved. let them be very, very engaged in every step of the process and then they take ownership. they feel they've been part of that process. that's such smart marketing. i always say a healthy business has good, better and best pricing model. so your vip clients you can spend that kind of time as long as they are paying you what you need to the live. then you have other models that support that. you got a lower pricing
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structure and middle and vip. >> certainly anything that's a high end, high priced product is way more cost effective to take the time to make sure the customer is getting what they want. they are paying for it. and as your example showed the cost of them rejecting it after all that's been put into it is too costly for your business. i would take it a step further. one of the two biggest mistake entrepreneurs make one they don't keep an eye on their money. the other mistake is they really don't listen to their customers. and that's like a gold mine of loyalty and attachment when the customer really feels that they have a say where they just serving them a cup of coffee or building them a great wrought iron gate. they should have a say. that's the way business has to to be done because customers have way too many choices. >> is there a flip side when you're spending too much time with somebody who is changing their mine over and over again.
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>> that's when you have to know to turn away some customers. >> and being very clear about your expectations. she took the time to really perfect the drawing with the customer. that's so essential. >> do you charge for that? so, you know, you get three drawings for free but if you want 20 drawings you have to pay me extra. >> you have to lead the customer. give them choice but as you said they are is going to have to pay a premium for that. >> thanks you guys. small details can make a big difference in how are you business thrives on the internet. here now are five tips for a successful e commerce platform courtesy of matchable.com. one, make sure you have a good search box that helps people find what they are looking for. two, keep it simple. consumers are more likely to purchase your product if checkout is stream line and straightforward. three, offer extra features.
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provide services like wrapping, receipt, personalized notes and returns. these gives kurnls more reason to buy. four, give details. basic information like size and color are necessary but it helps to also note things like how the product was made and how it will be shipped. and, number five, make sure your shipping costs are clear before the customers final checkout. the earlier they know about additional charges the less likely they are to abandon their cart. when we return we'll answer your business questions including a really interesting one on the role of strategy and serendipity to achieve success. small business saturday is coming up.
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you won't find a "home rule" on every corner, a "stag provisions" down every block, or a "hugh and crye" in every town. these are the small businesses of america, and all across the nation they're getting ready for their day. hundreds of thousands of small businesses are preparing for november 24, a day to open doors, and welcome the millions of customers who will turn out to shop small. small business saturday. visit shopsmall.com and get ready. because your day is coming. you never know when you'll run into somebody who isn't it in your business as an investor or partner or customer. it could be on an airplane or at a networking event or even here on the street and you know what? you have a marketing tool that's with you every day. your phone. so take advantage of that. gail who owns a clothing store
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in houston says always make sure you have very clear beautiful pictures of your product on your phone so you can show it to anyone at any time. so, it's your business tip number 12. be ready with a to pitch on your phone. it is rapidly approaching, small business saturday is coming up on november 24th. we're getting the word out to get people to shop small and support their local businesses, especially when it comes to holiday shopping. it's what the cash mall movement is about a unique way to get people to shop local. >> everybody, wave those 20s. >> this mob of eager shoppers is not out to find a bargain at a giant superstore. >> might be more expensive but mother-in-law. >> they are a friendly mob descending on a local small business with the objective of spending $20. >> today i bought a pair of foot
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flops and a bottle of wine. >> this is a cash mob. >> doesn't require you to come out and spend a fortune. you come out, see what this is like and you can't help but buy and enjoy. >> hey, come on in. >> igniting the cash mob movement in cleveland, ohio is a young lawyer named andrew who has a passion for meeting new people and supporting local small businesses. >> the slogan on our blog we each do a little we aldo a lot. if each person gives $20 to the store, 20 people will give them $400 and get something back in return. it's not charity. >> there's three main rules. >> first rule is you spend $20. second rule is that you meet three new people that you didn't know before. third is that you have fun. >> it started in the fall of 2011 when andrew posted an invitation on his facebook page. >> it's one of the ironies about
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cash mobs that we use social media to get the world out but anti-social media. we're using social media organize people socially and get them to actually meet each other face-to-face. >> this campaign quickly took root. he set up a website to start a cash mob. similar scenes started playing out all over the country. local organizers selected the stores and got the word out to the community. the owner of the variety mart describes the experience. >> it was amazing. they were hoping for 40 people. we had over 100 people come. there was a line outside the store, a line inside the store, people waiting to pay. three of us behind the counter ringing people up and bagging things. >> on this saturday, andrew orchestrated the very first international cash mob day with over 200 cash mobs happening around the united states and the
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world. in cleveland, the mob was happening at a small natural food store called nature's bin. >> it's a fun way to shop and also support a local store. >> how much did you spend today? >> exactly? $142 and change. >> i just looked at the numbers from today, from 2:00 when cash mob started to 3:30, which is an hour and a half. we had over 300 people come through the store and they spent way more than $20. our total for that span of time, an hour and a half was $9,000. >> at the same time, in new york, it was happening at two local downtown stores. somersault and another store. >> i bought local wine at a local liquor store.
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>> the method for selecting a small business is simple. >> first off, they need to be locally owned and independently operated. the second part is something you can't fake. you can't say hey, i'm going start sponsoring a team, bring a cash mob to my business so i can do this. we look for people with a long standing commitment to their communities. >> he encourages them to hang out at a local watering hole. >> they do their shopping and congregate again. you are not friends with people you like, you are friends with people you do things with. >> with uncertain economy and businesses suffering, a cash mob can give this small business a shot in the arm and much needed support especially when business is slow. >> if a local business is relying on a cash mob to save it, there's bigger problems than a cash mob can fix, it's a little bit of a boost or
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economic stimulus. when we go into one of these stores, there's a lot of people that have never been in that store. when they go in, they are bringing money and exposure to the store. >> beyond the boost, it's bringing people and communities together to make a difference. $20 at a time. >> i think the importance of the cash mob concept is really to build community and show people that they have the power to make the difference in their own community. is it the answer to our economic woes? absolutely not. i really think it's leading to something that can show people they can make a difference. >> it's time to answer some of your business questions. alfred and angela are with us. planning versus luck. >> how much does strategy count and how much does serendipity count when you are on the road to finding new business? >> can you put numbers around this? >> you can't put numbers around
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it. the key is not to look at them as two separate things or processes. serendipity is the fruit of strategy, planning and preparation. what you have is bad luck if an opportunity comes around and you can't take advantage of it and you fluff it because you are not prepared. >> planning, the fruit of it is serendipi serendipity. >> you make your own luck to a certain extent. people are like you are so lucky you met that person. it's because i was at that event. what do you think? >> to expand on that, they say make plans. with an entrepreneur, there's no better phrase. the number one thing you have to be is quick and nimble. you need to be fast on your feet, turn right and left as your customers want and as the trends expand. it's very important to pivot fast. >> great. let's move on to the next one.
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this is about finding the right person for the job. >> how do you find a reputable person to bring your product for -- >> all i can say is passion counts so much. if you get a salesperson that is extremely passionate and in line with your mission and what your company stands for, it's worth its weight in gold. the greatest sales people are insent vised by good commission. >> if you can find someone who sells a non-competing product in your industry, you know they have good contacts. you can check on them. >> relationships are key. experience is good but, again, the best sales people, the most experienced are unavailable because they are that good. if someone wants to make money, they will establish the relationships. >> a salesperson i spoke with
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said i get so many calls by companies wanting me to represent them. the first thing i need to know is they are a reputable company. i need to know if i sell your product, you are going to have product to sell. he needs to think it's a sales job on his own part. >> you have to prove you have a viable product. you have to have something that people want and no salesperson is going to invest time and energy -- >> and you fulfill it. >> do they feel supported by the company. >> let's move on to the next one. this is cashing in on social media. >> how would i be able to maximize my social network? >> you use social media quite a bit. >> there are two or three things people will pay for. networking, content and education. so, if your social network can provide one or the other, you can make money through ads, but you have to have masses of people coming to your website.
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i find that people are very eager. they are willing to pay for connections and a lot for education. >> got it. >> education in particular for smaller sites. most don't have facebook numbers. if you have a specialized area and i believe this site does, i believe it's hunting, you can do videos on your site around, i don't know anything about hunting. >> best hunting practices. >> then you can get companies in that space to, you know, sponsor, preroll or post roll and pay for that. >> advertising. or you news your social media in a way to sell your product. you are monotizing it. >> thank you so much for all your advice. i's really helpful. if any of you have a question for our experts, all you have to do is go to our website. the address is openforum.com/yourbusiness. once you get there, hit the ask
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the show link. again, that website is openforum.com/yourbusiness or if you would rather, you can e-mail your questions and send your comments as well. yourbusiness@msnbc.com. do you wish there were an easy way to track employee performance across your company? check out our website of the week. workforcegrowth.com manages your work force in one place. monitor employee progress through reviews, goal setting and rewards. it provides visuals to better gauge your companies needs and make better decisions. to learn more about our show, click on our website rk it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. you can follow us on twitter. please become a fan of the show
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on facebook. we love getting your feedback. next week, in our special small business saturday show, we look at a community hit hard by the recession that created an event to bring back customers. >> 30 or 40 people came in that first night. we knew we were on to something. >> how a group of retailers banded together to boost the bottom line. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. you won't find a "home rule" on every corner, a "stag provisions" down every block, or a "hugh and crye" in every town. these are the small businesses of america, and all across the nation they're getting ready for their day. hundreds of thousands of small businesses are preparing for november 24, a day to open doors, and welcome the millions of customers